Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Duck Breast with Balsamic Pears

This was the first time I made duck at home since I usually save such a treat for a nice restaurant. I did enjoy it enough to want to catalog it but with variations for next time. 

1 (15-ounce) fresh or frozen (thawed) boneless duck-breast half with skin
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated orange peel
1 Bosc or D'Anjou pear, cored & cut into 8 wedges
1-2 large shallot, finely chopped
1 9oz bag microwave-in-bag baby spinach
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Pat duck breast dry with paper towels. With knife, cut four 1/4-inch-deep diagonal slashes in skin & fat. On waxed paper, evenly sprinkle duck breast with 1/4 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to season both sides. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook duck, skin side down, on medium 16 to 18 minutes or until skin is browned & crispy. As duck cooks, spoon off excess fat in skillet. Turn duck over; cook 10 minutes for medium-rare or until desired doneness.

While duck cooks, in 2-quart saucepan, prepare rice as label directs; when done, stir in parsley, chives, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In cup, mix vinegar, water, sugar & peel. Transfer duck to cutting board; cover with foil to keep warm. Discard all but 2 tsp fat from skillet. Stir in pear & cook 5 minutes or until it begins to brown; transfer to plate. Add shallot to skillet & cook 1 minute. Stir in vinegar mixture; cook 2 to 4 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken.

Meanwhile, prepare bagged spinach in microwave as label directs. To serve, divide spinach & rice between 2 dinner plates; sprinkle rice with almonds. Thinly slice duck breast & serve with pears & balsamic sauce.

{My Thoughts}

The duck itself was flavorful & really nice with the rice & pears. I love spinach but didn't feel it lended anything to this dish so next time I will omit it. The sauce was a little too vinegar-y so I would definitely cut back on the balsamic by a tblsp or two next time, or just add a little more sugar. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pecan-Crusted Sliders

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. The weather was perfect for kayaking & tennis. Is it just me or is everyone just busier than usual these days? I make it a point to visit everyone new who comes by, it's just taking me longer lately. And while I used to visit my blogroll regularly it's been difficult to say the least. Please know I miss you guys & will always get there eventually. 

This dish was perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  I really enjoyed it & had leftovers for dinner tonight as well. It'd probably be just as tasty with chicken, for my non-pork eating gals. To cut down on the calories, I had this on a whole wheat English Muffin for lunch today & just added tomato.

2 oz. pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise in 8 pieces
1 egg
2 tblsp honey
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 small green apple
1-1/2 cups broccoli slaw
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
8 small buns or dinner rolls, split
Dijon-style mustard (optional)

With palm of hand flatten pork slices to 1/4 inch thickness. In shallow dish whisk together egg & 1 tblsp of the honey. In another shallow dish combine chopped nuts, 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Dip pork in egg mixture then nut mixture, pressing to coat.

In 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork in hot oil 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden & slightly pink in centers. 

Meanwhile, for slaw, quarter apple, remove core & seeds; thinly slice. In bowl combine apple, shredded broccoli, mayonnaise, & 1 tblsp honey. Season with salt & pepper. For sliders, place pork on buns or rolls; top with slaw. Pass mustard. Makes 4 servings (two sliders each).

{My Thoughts}

I found it difficult to get uniform pieces out of the tenderloin & to get big enough ones even for a slider so I ended up making regular size sandwiches rather than sliders & just put two pieces of meat on one sandwich. I do recommend making the slaw ahead of time if you can, because it was even better the next day. Although the recipe says the mustard is optional both hubs & I agree it wouldn't be the same without it. 

Go Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chicken & Veggies En Foile...

Or in other words, some good stuff cooked up in aluminum foil. 

For this Not So Fat Friday, I bring you something easy, tasty & fast!!! I have been making this for a few years now & it's just a good go to now & again. Use this as a blank canvas to create any combination with whatever you have in the kitchen & pantry. Maybe some chicken, tomato, artichoke, spinach & mozzarella for an Italian flair or chicken, snow peas, ginger & hoisin for Asian. The possibilities are endless. Just follow the time & you will be set.

6-8 tblspn BBQ sauce of your choice
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 small unpeeled red potatoes, sliced thin
1 red or green bell pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
or 1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 cup shredded lowfat cheese
4 pieces of 12" x 12" foil

Pre-heat oven to 375. Spoon  up to 1 tblsp BBQ sauce in center of each foil. Place one chicken breast over sauce & spread another tblsp of sauce over the chicken. Top with a quarter of the potato, bell pepper & onion. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

{oops, my sauce went on top of the veggies, not the chicken}

Out of the oven, waiting for cheese }

Fold foil in half to cover & bring in sides to seal. Make 4 packets. Place on baking sheet & bake for 30 minutes. Open packets carefully & sprinkle with 1/4 of the shredded cheese. You can place back in over without resealing the foil or just let sit for a minute with the foil closed a little to allow cheese to melt. Scoop carefully onto plate & pour juice from packet all over.

{My Thoughts}

If you don't slice your potatoes very thin then they won't be tender. To be sure, just place the potatoes in the microwave for 2 minutes prior to slicing.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Have a great weekend everyone. For me, it's kayaking with a good friend, tennis with my BF & quality time with fam. And I'll be coming 'round to make up for lost time this week to see you!!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Steamy Affair

He makes my life easier.

He works hard so I don't have to.

And he makes me happy.

I'm in love

Oh if the walls could talk......................they're just jealous!

{You can believe all the hundreds of amazing reviews on Amazon. As for the very few bad ones ~ they're from people who don't know how to chew gum & walk at the same time. If you don't have an ideal everyday floor cleaning system for tiled floors then you need this! Ask me anything about it, it's just too easy!}

Isn't it time you had a steamy affair!!!!!!

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tuxedo Crusted Chicken & Wasabi Slaw

I really enjoyed my weekend after a first week back to work but boy how it went too quickly. There was a picnic by the beach with family, tennis with a best friend on a very early Sunday morning, followed by an emotional service at church where Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, spoke to us about his experience firsthand. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. 

Speaking of Heaven, I made this dish quite some time ago. A fine example of a perfect combination of flavors. The panko crusted chicken goes so beautifully with this "slaw" & glass of white wine. While it looks like a regular salad it's made with bok choy & cabbage and then tossed with a wasabi homemade dressing. 

Tuxedo Sesame Crusted Chicken

1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 tblsp sesame seeds
3 tblsp black sesame seeds
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
3 tblsp vegetable oil, divided

Mix bread crumbs & sesame seeds in shallow dish. Beat egg, garlic powder, salt & red pepper in separate shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg mixture. Coat evenly on both sides in bread crumb mixture, pressing firmly so mixture adheres to chicken. Heat 2 tblsp of the oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken pieces; cook 5 minutes per side or until chicken is browned & cooked through. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding remaining oil if needed. Serve with Wasabi Slaw.

Wasabi Slaw

1 tblsp wasabi powder
1 tblsp water
4 tsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tblsp packed brown sugar
1 tblsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup thinly sliced bok choy
1 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin 2-inch strips
1/2 small unpeeled cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded & thinly sliced

Mix wasabi & water in medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, oil, ginger & salt. Mix bok choy, Napa cabbage, bell pepper & cucumber in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover & refrigerate at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shrimp, Spinach & Mushroom Barley

In order to have the right mindset for my first week back to work, I have made sure to take extra care of myself this week ~ getting at least 8 hours of sleep, drinking a lot of water, exercising and, of course, eating right. I made this dish on Sunday & it has instantly become one of my most favorite Not So Fat Friday recipes ever! I enjoyed it for lunch for 3 days after, even cold, & it was simply delicious. 

If you've never cooked with barley before, I highly recommend it. It's a cereal grain & is similar to rice & couscous in the way you cook it. While pearled barley is the least nutritious of the barleys, it's still excellent for you. I may look for hulled barley next time which is even healthier, just not as tasty as the pearled.

Either way, this is a dish I will be making again. This weekend in fact! 

1 cup dry pearled barley
3 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3-4 shallots, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 lb peeled, cooked shrimp
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh sage, torn
Sea salt, to taste

In a medium pot on high heat bring both barley & broth to a boil. Cover & let simmer on low to medium heat, so liquid doesn't boil over. Set timer & cook for 50 minutes.

In a non stock skillet, saute shallots & mushrooms in oil for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add spinach & lightly saute for about 3 minutes, until wilted.

At 50 minutes check on barley. When there is no more remaining broth, add shrimp & pepper to barley. Cook for 1 minute. Add shallot-mushroom mixture, sage & salt to barley. Stir & cook for 3 minutes.

My Thoughts

My shrimp weren't cooked so I just sauteed them quickly for only 3 minutes in a separate pan. Or you could just add them last to the same pan with the mushrooms & shallots. Just don't overcook. Dried sage worked beautifully & I would do it again. Use about 4 tsps of dried. It really adds a nice flavor. I also threw in an extra cup of spinach to make a total of 5 cups.

This can be enjoyed cold or warmed up. Keeps for 4-5 days in fridge or 6 months in freezer.

Have a great weekend everyone. I can't wait to make my rounds to see how your week was!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Wraps - Healthy Makeover

Hey all. I'm going to make this quick since it was the first day at my new job & I am just plain ol' tired. It went really well though, much better than I could have expected so I am really grateful for that. On a night such as tonight, a dinner like this would be perfect. Simple, fast but healthy & deliciously satisfying!!!!

I found this recipe at, a site I go to often for healthy & tasty meals. Each wrap only had 275 cals. The dressing was outstanding & a little blue cheese went a long way. This is definitely a perfect alternative to the fat laden buffalo chicken sandwiches you get out at a restaurant.

2 tblsp hot pepper sauce, such as Frank's RedHot
3 tblsp white vinegar, divided
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb chicken tenders
2 tblsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tblsp nonfat plain yogurt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 large tomato, chopped

Whisk hot pepper sauce, 2 tblsp vinegar & cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Spray cooking spray in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders; cook until cooked through & no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add to the bowl with the hot sauce; toss to coat well. 

Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, pepper & the remaining 1 tblsp vinegar in a small bowl. Stir in blue cheese. 

To assemble wraps: Lay a tortilla on a work surface or plate. Spread with 1 tblsp blue cheese sauce & top with one-fourth of the chicken, lettuce, celery, tomato & onion. Drizzle with some of the hot sauce remaining in the bowl & roll into a wrap sandwich. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

{My Thoughts}

We had two leftover so I wrapped them in foil for lunch the next day. While hubs thought they were even better then, I thought they had dried out a bit so I suggest you save some hot sauce mixture to pour over your remaining wraps. Original recipe also called for 2 tsp of olive oil to cook the chicken tenders in but I used spray to cut down on fat further & would again. I added the onions as they were not included in original recipe.

Also, if your wraps are not pliable enough just put them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds. I did this before wrapping our leftovers. 

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

See you all this week & into the weekend as I make it on over your way to see what's going on with you. Hope everyone is doing well!!!!

And for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, please visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chicken Chili with Black Beans

As excited as I am to be starting a job next Monday after a 3 month layoff, especially in a time when most people are desperate for work, I have been a little bummed this week knowing it's my last few days of a long vacation! Some of the advantages were:
  • Being caught up on all my shows
  • Buying a bulldog & being able to potty train him
  • Picking Tristan up early from school
  • Going to bed later
  • Having the time to work out each morning
  • Eating dinner by 6
So, here's to a new journey. And here is to my last Not So Fat Friday as an unemployed. 

This recipe comes from one of my healthy books on power foods. Everything in this is sooo super good for you. It's a hearty one dish meal that's simple to make & with a lot of flavor!!!!! 

3/4 to 1 lb ground chicken
3 garlic cloves, mined
1 28oz can tomatoes, cut up or diced
1 1/2 cups black beans, cooked
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup green peppers, diced
4 tsp mild chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 oz yellow squash, diced
Nonfat yogurt for garnish (optional)

Coat a pot with nonstick spray & warm it over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add chicken & garlic & saute until chicken is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, onions, celery, peppers, chili powder & oregano. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low. Cover & simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes*. Add squash. Cover & simmer, stirring occasionally until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Dollop with 1 tblsp of nonfat yogurt.

{My Thoughts}

To make things go quicker I cut all the veggies into a small chop rather than a dice. *Also, if you like your squash a bit more tender, I suggest adding it in after 10 minutes. The yogurt is not in the original recipe but I have garnished other healthy chilis with it like this one here & it really does add a nice touch. You should really try it if you never have before. 

Have a great weekend everyone! And Happy Easter. I hope it's an Egg-citing one!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Afternoon Delight

Since I'm going back to work next week I've been thinking of a 

gorgeous male 

I'll be meeting for lunch everyday.

It's convenient he lives right down the street for those 

afternoon quickies!

If you haven't already, meet Nash, the 5 month old Bulldog who's

become part of the family.

For more adorable pictures of Nash, visit here

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Asian Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

The last time I was this excited about shrimp was when I came across these. It's not often you have everything in the house for something not only decent but delectable! Well, this past weekend we had a simple BBQ with just burgers, corn on the cob & a favorite Artichoke Dip. But I needed to do a little somethin' somethin' that I could get excited about.  I came across this recipe from Paula Deen but I tweaked it so much I will just write it as my own but link you to the original here.

These were so good as an appetizer that I had them as my main meal this evening for something quick, easy & deliciously satisfying!!!

3 tblsp fresh lime juice
1 tblsp vegetable oil
1 tblsp sesame oil
2 tblsp soy sauce, divided
1 tsp ginger
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined (or chicken)
1/2 bell pepper, green or red or orange
1/4 cup onion or scallions
1 tblsp hoisin sauce
1 pkg romaine lettuce, trimmed to make little cups (or Bibb)
Sweet garlic chili sauce for garnish (optional)
Slivered almonds or lightly salted roasted peanuts (optional)

In medium bowl, combine lime juice, 1 tblsp vegetable oil, sesame oil, 1 tblsp soy sauce, ginger & garlic. Add shrimp & marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat medium skillet with cooking spray. Add bell pepper & onion. Cook for 3 minutes until slightly softened. Add shrimp & marinade & cook for 3 minutes until shrimp are pink. Do not overcook. Take off heat. Stir in 1 tblsp soy sauce & 1 tblsp hoisin sauce.

Using a slotted spoon, spoon a few tblsp into each romaine lettuce cup. Add a little chili sauce & garnish with either slivered almonds or roasted peanuts.

{1st time I made them with some slivered almonds for crunch}

{2nd time was with some roasted peanuts. Both yum}

{My Thoughts}

I bought the already prepared romaine lettuce equivalent to one head of lettuce. I trimmed them even further to make a small cup that fits in the palm of your hands. Use the remaining for salad! Since the shrimp mixture is a wet one, I purposely say to use a slotted spoon to fill your lettuce wraps, but you may want to use a tiny spoon to put just a little of the marinade in your wrap as well. 

Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for More Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!!!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Friday's Brown Bag

Before I get on with Not So Fat Fridays...

When I guest posted over at Angie's Seven Clown Circus the other day about finding your best self, I wrote how I look forward to or create mini events to help me stay motivated & provide added incentive to keep working out & eating right. Well, the next couple of months will definitely be keeping me in check:
  • I got a new job this week & start on the 13th. The kicker? It's not even a mile from my house. I have been holding out for something like this since getting laid off in January!
  • I am going to start teaching cooking classes out of my home as well as provide personal chef services & cooking parties in other people's homes. Soon I will be looking to you for some advice in a fun contest sorta way.  
  • I am heading to NY in May for my 20th year reunion
  • Our family vacation has been booked for Hilton Head in June.
  • I have taken up tennis with my best friend. What an outlet!!!!!
So, wouldn't you say that's enough to make me want to stay on my toes by feeling healthy & well-thy ?!?!?!?

One of the ways I do that is to make sure I am enjoying being healthy. Having one of the following for breakfast makes it very easy because I don't feel I am being denied anything. Instead, it's like I am either having some delicious Mexican or even a Banana Sundae.


There are so many versions of this Mexican style breakfast so I threw together whatever I had in the house & made it healthier.

Great way to start the day: A corn tortilla broiled in the oven for just a few minutes until crispy, topped with non-fat bean dip, one egg cooked without butter, salsa verde, a little salt & pepper, a sprinkle of cheese & a tad of hot sauce. 

This little guy up top curled up quite a bit under the broiler but it worked perfectly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I usually eat this with strawberries & blueberries but a banana worked just as nice! So far I am loving Mona's Original Granola with no added sugar, salt or artificial additives. 

Some non-fat plain yogurt topped with granola, honey & banana makes for a not too sweet breakfast treat!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!! 

Raspberry-Balsamic Chicken with Shallots

I hope everyone has had a great week. There's lots of goodness going on over here which has kept me from blogging this week but I plan to share with you tomorrow with my Not So Fat Friday yumminess. 

This dish could have easily been a part of NSFF but I really wanted to share it today. From Eating , I made it this week & really enjoyed it. It was perfectly paired with some whole grain couscous that I kicked up a bit by cooking in broth & then adding some lemon juice, garlic powder & a little thyme to go with the thyme in the main dish. This was super easy to make, delicious & healthy. That's a triple threat right there!!!!!!!!

{There is more sauce than what appears in the dish}

¾ cup seedless all-fruit raspberry jam
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 4- to 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped shallots (2-3 large)
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Combine jam & vinegar in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the jam is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in salt & pepper & let cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce. Place chicken breasts & the rest of the sauce in a large sealable plastic bag. Seal & shake gently to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots & thyme. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). Add the chicken to the pan & cook until just beginning to brown, 2 minutes on each side. Add the reserved raspberry sauce; stir to melt the jam & coat the chicken. Reduce heat to low, cover & cook until the chicken is cooked through & no longer pink in the center, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

{My Thoughts}

The 3 boneless chicken breasts I had were very thick so I sliced them thinner & used about 4 of the thin cutlets which ended up in line with the recipe. If I had pounded them thin they still would have been too big. 

If you halve this recipe for some reason I highly recommend you keeping the jam & vinegar quantity the same. I also recommend doubling the shallots regardless. I felt there were not enough. Sweet Vidalia onions would work very well if you have those on hand instead. 

As for the jam, I went with the brand Polaner All Fruit Fruit Spread which had the least sugar of most of the jams out there. I also used the dried thyme from my pantry & would again.